Visitor Reflections at JMM

Posted on June 22nd, 2016 by

I thought I’d take some time to share some of the visitor feedback we’ve received at the Museum whether on post-it notes in the Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America exhibit, comment books in the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit or expressed to me at the front desk.

The comment board

The comment board

At the end of the “Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America” exhibit, visitors have the opportunity to share their thoughts and feedback by leaving post-it notes on a board. Here is a selection of some of the comments we’ve received:

“I love the structure and the interactive exhibits!”

“Exhibit called my attention to things about which I’d previously been unaware”

“Varied, informative, entertaining – Wow!!”

“Very informative exhibit that invites visitors to explore the Jewish medical experience and to also see themselves within the context of its evolving history. Thanks!”

“So fun! I feel like I have gone back in time!”

I suspect that the person who wrote the last comment may have been referring to features such as the recreation of a corner drugstore.

I suspect that the person who wrote the last comment may have been referring to features such as the recreation of a corner drugstore.

We also had a few comments from graduates from the Sinai Hospital School of Nursing saying that they had a wonderful experience and that the exhibit brought back many memories.

As I was walking through the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit, I noticed that our visitors had completely filled out the comment book at the end of the exhibit. It was a pleasure reading through it the book and hearing about visitor’s connections to our neighborhood. One visitor thanked us for reviving memories of his youth. Several others remarked how the exhibit reminded them of how their immigrant grandparents grew up.

Another described coming down to Lombard Street with her father to get corned beef while also playing with the chickens in the wooden cages.

Another described coming down to Lombard Street with her father to get corned beef while also playing with the chickens in the wooden cages.

In addition to written feedback, I sometimes get people coming up to the front desk telling me stories of their connections to Jewish Baltimore or of their connection to our collections. A few days ago, I heard from a rabbi who went on the Lloyd Street Synagogue tour that his great grandfather, was the melamed, or teacher of the synagogue from the Bavarian village of Gaukoenigshoffen, where one of our Torah scrolls came from.

The scroll he was referring to was our Kleeman Torah which was rescued by Louis Kleeman during Kristallnacht in 1938 and then smuggled out of Germany in 1940.

The scroll he was referring to was our Kleeman Torah which was rescued by Louis Kleeman during Kristallnacht in 1938 and then smuggled out of Germany in 1940.

This story had a tragic end because on March 24, 1942, the 40 year old Jewish community of Gaukoenigshoffen disappeared when the remaining 37 Jews were deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp.

Despite the sometimes sad stories I hear, one of my favorite parts of my job is hearing how our exhibits and collections touch visitors and often reconnect them to a part of their past that they thought they had lost. I hope you will all continue to leave your feedback!

GrahamA blog post by Graham Humphrey, Visitor Services Coordinator. To read more posts by Graham click HERE.

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Small Improvements, Big Impact: Reshaping the JMM Visitor Experience

Posted on May 12th, 2016 by

Performance Counts May 2016

Many years ago I heard a joke: A very creative man, Moshe, was asked by his more run-of-the-mill friend, Joe, what Joe might do to help him be more like Moshe. Moshe replied, “sometimes, the smallest change makes a big difference in the way that you see the world. Try putting your pants on each morning with the other leg first. It will adjust your whole outlook on things.”

Joe thought Moshe might be crazy, but he tried it anyway. The next time he saw Moshe, he heartily thanked him, “I tried it, I put my pants on left leg first now, and since I started, I’ve been able to come up with creative solutions to problems that once seemed intractable.”

“That’s great!” said Moshe, “but what happened to your face?” referring to the large bruises on Joe’s cheeks and eyes.

“I fall on my face every morning, because I’m putting my pants on the wrong leg first.”

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For whatever reason, and despite the punchline, that joke has really stayed with me. Mostly, I guess, because I believe it to be true: small changes, when they’re the right changes, can lead to big differences in individuals, organizations and cultures.

Some fresh, new landscaping.

Some fresh, new landscaping.

Since I started at the JMM about a year ago, we’ve begun collecting small changes:

*We started accepting credit cards at the front desk, so that our visitors don’t need to interrupt their entry experience to pay with card.

*We’ve moved more shop merchandise into the lobby, and have re-organized what’s in the shop, grouping items by theme, allowing us to make the shop experience also educational.

*Our front doors now feature handicap accessible paddles and power-assist opens.

*We brought in a company to power-wash the scaling from the portico that marks our entrance, and we re-landscaped the beds right out front.

*We’ve worked to stabilize the projector in our orientation space so that it no longer wobbles with the HVAC system’s operation.

*We retired the old Tzedakah box into our Institutional Archives, and had fabricated a new acrylic collection box that allows visitors to see others’ donation and encourages greater giving (the money collected this way has markedly increased!).

Our nifty new donations box.

Our nifty new donations box.

And we’re not done! In the coming weeks and months you can expect to see:

*A new phone system (it’s being installed this week) that will allow direct dial to all JMM staffers

*A new software package that will streamline the visitor entry transaction, and will allow us to better understand our visitors – who they are, where they come from, when they visit, etc.

*A facelift for our public bathrooms, including new lighting, sinks and mirrors

*A refresh of our lobby and orientation space, including fresh paint, new furniture and improved donor recognition panels

Taken together, as we move forward into fiscal year 2017 and beyond, these small changes are really starting to add up to positive developments at the JMM. I hope that you’ll agree, and will join me in celebrating the changes we’ve already made and share with me your ideas about how we can improve the visitor experience at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Tracie Guy-DeckerA blog post by Associate Director Tracie Guy-Decker. Read more posts from Tracie by clicking HERE.

 

 

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Reflections on my 1st year at the JMM

Posted on April 27th, 2016 by

Where you'll find Graham...usually!

Where you’ll find Graham…usually!

As it’s coming up to my year anniversary working at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, I thought I’d share a few projects I’ve worked on (and some fun I’ve had along the way). You may be wondering what a Visitor Services Coordinator does. While my primary responsibilities involve taking admissions at the front desk, delivering the daily synagogue tours when our volunteer docents are unavailable, scheduling school and adult visits to the Museum and handling rentals, I’ve also taken on a few other tasks.  For instance, I’ve learned the Point of Sale system in the shop, worked to make the museum more accessible and have improved the visitor experience by installing a bike rack and re-landscaping our front courtyard area.

Enjoying baseball with the interns

Enjoying baseball with the interns

I’ve enjoyed the challenge of working with contractors, gaining experience with project management and learning new tours such as the “Sounds of the Synagogue.”  I’ve mentored our summer interns and organized a field trip for them to an Orioles game in Camden Yards. I also assisted with the de-installation of the Mendes Cohen exhibit.

De-installing 'The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen'

De-installing ‘The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen’

Sometimes I’ve been asked to do a few usual things such as installing Ikea bookcases for our shop, acting as a valet parker when guests got blocked in our staff parking lot, and driving to the Museum late at night for a false burglary alarm.

Showing off some Ikea skills!

Showing off some Ikea skills!

I’ve had fun acting as an ambassador for the JMM whether it was tabling at the National Council for Public history’s annual conference in Baltimore or dressing as a doctor to promote our new Beyond Chicken Soup (chickensoupexhibit.org) exhibit for Charm City Tribe’s Wild Purim Rumpus.

The Wild Purim Rumpus

The Wild Purim Rumpus

Part of the joy of the job has been interacting with visitors from all over the world and hearing their connections to Jewish life in Baltimore. I’ve made lasting friendships with our many volunteers and have grown close to many of the staff.

In the coming year, I hope to take on more volunteer management responsibilities, as our current volunteer coordinator, Ilene Cohen, will be soon leaving the Museum. I also look forward to transitioning to a computerized ticketing and admission system. As always, if you have any suggestions of how I can make the visitor experience better, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

GrahamA blog post by Graham Humphrey, Visitor Services Coordinator. To read more posts by Graham click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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